The Point Between F5 And F6

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Who is the foreigner on my shelf, bathed in a bass blush? (Photo by Alex on Unsplash)

 

20 years ago, I saw myself in a lovely ballgown, green and grey, blue and flame-red like smoky alabaster
I was a little girl again in this cover model body, surprising in the mirror,
checking the price tag — that’s my dad
before the divorce they never saw coming


on another page, I saw her young, lovely pastor’s wife face break out in a thousand-watt smile
after a dream about the abuse, the betrayal, the lost years because he would not obey

I warned her, I said, “You are a superhero and a villain. Choose one. Choose wisely. Choose your family, your husband and your children, they are your salvation.”

maybe I was talking about myself


I am the heretic on the street corner, next to the vagrant and the drug dealer,
a virgin prophet, the Scarlet letter, his dirty little secret, the one he keeps between the folds of his post-gastric bypass and those late nights fisting lube & memory

the small man in faded denims, spectacles, sensible shoes — Lord, how I hated his mean-spirited sermons posing as the frontierman — preaching fire and brimstone,
you are a piece of shit!
I watched the dog-and-pony show
all the pretty little Christians lined up in rows
behind careful smiles, crafted masks

waiting to throw them at me

I read the headlines: God is dead,
they raped her body in the woods, then raised a glass in Tinsel Town
Hooray for Hollywood.

this can’t be my world


tonight I look for the man with brass who can take down an entire forest in the middle of a desert
with one note
I know, I saw him

he always waits for me in the cabin beyond this bridge over troubled waters between Seattle and Vancouver, his books and his music, an Irish pub and the neighborhood street fair

it is 1947 or 2012

he loves me, the way the waves love the shore when tourists leave town, leaving us to the moonlight

he watches me make the slow dance toward him, arms limp yet light as a ballerina, his ballerina, drunk with sleep, in everlasting dreams

we watch the setting sun from his backyard mottled with cattails, green tea warms in my hands
he smells of honeysuckle and home

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Backstabber

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Photo by Manki Kim on Unsplash

“When the character of a man is not clear to you, look at his friends.” —Japanese Proverb

It’s been two weeks since my best friend stabbed me in the back. I’m still not “over it.”

(I don’t understand people who think it’s as easy as turning off the bathroom light. Are they human?)

I’m still in the rage and hurt phase, probably will be for another 10 to 20 years.

Get over it.

All the self-help memes in the world will never explain to my satisfaction why a grown-ass woman would do that to another grown-ass woman, mother-of-four to mother-of-one, as she put it in the kiss-off letter, her last word and the last call of the self-righteous when the body has already been dug in.

I can work with logic and reason. Not projection as slanderous, preposterous, and horribly unfair as this. Not an “outsider” putting words, motives, and duplicitous agenda in my mouth without even a goddamned trial. Not this emotional rape, not from her.

Come after me, but leave my family out of your bullshit.

What bothers me the most is I fell for her act. Yes, I get the irony.

After growing up under the thumb of two of the best Narcissists in the book, after escaping a mini-kingdom of them called church between 2007-2009, etc., I still fell for it.

Not only did I fall for her bullshit act, but I did things for her and said things to her in confidence that I have not done and said for anyone, not even my own husband. I loved her unconditionally. I loved her in a way that amazed me; I didn’t even know I was capable of such love. I thought my love was returned, our friendship two-sided. I thought we would do anything for each other, and not let anyone get between us.

But then, I did this before, another best friend with a similar-sounding but differently spelled name. We smugly vowed our allegiance as friends, lording it privately over the unwashed like Oprah & Gayle.

As soon as she found a dick to fuck, she dropped me like a hot potato — a typical, cliché response for what I assumed was an atypical, special romance of a best friendship.

She cut me out of her life as surgically as a doctor or serial killer cutting off the carotid artery in a murder spree. Both of them.

I will never let anyone in like that again.

To my credit, I still have some friends left. Not like her. But close enough.

Maybe that faithless bitch will end up in my novel, or an investigative piece. I am a writer and reporter, a fact that seems to elude people who think they can do and say whatever the hell they want to me and skate along onto their rosy happily ever.

We’ll see. As the Queen of the Narcissists West of the Mississippi once said, “Time will tell.”

Umbrella Game

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I watched my son’s soccer game last Sunday.

What’s the big deal? Well, I’m usually preoccupied with baking cookies for, and taking photos of the boys to really enjoy watching — as a spectator and a proud parent.

This time, I decided to avoid battling the inclement Seattle weather and just 100 percent show up. It was wonderful to watch both teams battling on the rainy pitch, until one of them broke the nil-nil with a goal.

Turns out my son’s Newport FC team broke that stalemate with two crucial, spectacular plays, tight passing, intuitive trust off a deceptive dribbler and a slow, ballet-arc of a header.

During the second half, one of the players on my son’s team suffered what looked to be a season-ending injury, the kind of automatic red card injury you turn away from. In a split second, I saw my son rise up from the bench to help his teammate off the field, along with their coach.

He never did that before.

Later, after winning the first game of the prestigious State Cup, he told me he was so scared his teammate and friend broke a major bone in his left leg. I saw concern, and quiet dignity, on his placid face as he drove us back home in the pouring rain.

I saw… a hero who cared more for his team than his own scoring glory.

After everything he’s been through…

Oh, and he also played with a molecular precision and economy of movement I’ve never seen before, like a chess master, to keep the other team from even thinking about getting close to the net.

Yeah, I’m pretty proud of him.

dark

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“A Pint of Beer” by Anders Nord on Unsplash

they say death is dark
a cold alabaster in your hands
the click of a telephone
“Keep me posted” “Thoughts and prayers” “Take care”

Nadine visits. Her smile and these pills, this chair and my strange mangled hands.

I drive in my dreams toward the end of the road. A ferry will take me to the water that glistens like newly fermented craft beer. I see Mark King and his burly Isle of Wight mates standing around the shore. The beer reminds me of orange soda when I drowned off the edge of a cliff after my grandmother pushed me in her broken Korean.

I can’t tell anymore if I’m alive or made.

travel girl

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Photo by Leandro Gándara Mendez on Unsplash

rootless destinations

a church on a hill, below secondhand smoky fog
the rising Cliffs of Montauk before splinters of him sprayed in a majestic husk
oh how thunderous the stars over Honokaa, an exit mile post to that bleary-eyed Haleakala morning
flickering snapshots of blue silk, arriving postcards, the wise sentinels of Red Rock

“Mommy, do plane people change the scenery around while we eat nuts and drink Coca-Cola?”

“He not your father.”

little rapes through a thousand years, I write down the figures as fast as I can as the bodies fade, borrow memories from fancy men in black suits, their six-figure whores in the back of a stretch Hummer

“No one love you now”

remote control

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Photo by alan King on Unsplash

Am I the author of my own movie? Or are these images dream flashes not mine?

The Dark festooned with residue from Hollywood’s cutting room, too much oboe, the voices do not match this unswerving frequency we’re on.

I either miss a man TPTB made up in casting, or one of my own invention.

Attached at 80, 8, and this nowhere in between, waiting for Prince Charming in his therapist overcoat to wake me up with a kiss and familiar conversation, waiting for the key in the logic of his subversive, subtitled conversation.

A flash as I drive carefully into the side of this ruinous house — this voice, this face, old and young, wise and reckless —

several hands hold him back as he shouts, “I can’t just stand here while they hurt her!”

Diane McKinstry

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“Carol, Good luck in the years to come as a writer & also you better stop chasing those boys they’ll get to you. You friend Always, Diane.” -“Horizons ’77’,” Newcomb Middle School Yearbook

I was so scared to start seventh grade.

I didn’t know anyone. I didn’t make many friends since moving from Ft. Shafter to Ft. Dix two years earlier. The bullies in 1976 were no joke.

Fat and Asian, I didn’t stand a chance. I walked around staring fixedly on the ground, quiet and shy, meek and mild, because I learned early on what happens if I didn’t. Fists and words finished the job.

In school, I dreaded four things the most: P.E., speaking in front of the class, recess, and lunch. It meant being left alone with these kids. It meant standing around trying not to look like I didn’t have anyone to talk to. It meant speaking out loud and catching one or two of those kids smirking, whispering, laughing, or worse, making that face with the slanted eyes and bowing.

The bell rang for the first recess of the first day at Newcomb Middle School in Pemberton Township, and my stomach began rolling up in knots.

I anticipated what would happen next, what always happens: me standing alone, everybody else having fun, glancing back at me occasionally with pity or derision.

But for the first time in my life, I was wrong.

As soon as I walked outside with my seventh grade class, Diane McKinstry looked directly at me and asked if I wanted to hang out with her and her group of friends for recess. I couldn’t believe she’d do that.

She was popular too, popular without trying, because she was a good person, confident, no push-over, and genuinely nice. Soon, I made a few more friends in the class, thanks to her, and — except for navigating around a racist bully named Michael (who would go to Juvy for bullying others and stealing) — the rest of my last year in New Jersey turned out great.

A boy in my English Honors class down the street even liked me.

Diane didn’t make a huge deal about befriending me. She was casual about it. But it meant so much to me. It meant the world.

When something bad happens to me, I think of her and a handful of other really good people out there who extended themselves when they didn’t have to.

Something really bad happened to me last week, something truly horrible. I’m still picking up the pieces. Perhaps I always will till my dying breath. There is no superhero to swoop in and give me justice. There is no answer as to why someone who I loved so much would so easily turn on me and my son, over something stupid.

I didn’t do anything wrong. Honest to god, I don’t know what else I could’ve done to change the outcome.

I’m afraid now. Really fucking terrified someone else who once called me friend will rip me to shreds, just because she can. I don’t know who to trust, or if I can ever find another friend like her again. Or even if I want to.

My best friend took my worst fears and used them against me in the worst possible way. I’ve been raped physically, so I know what it feels like. This feels like an emotional rape, a thorough and complete violation, and for what?

I need to be my own Diane McKinstry, somehow. Wherever she is, I hope she’s doing well.

Magna Carta Falling

Today, I dreamed of a dog. “He’s yours,” he said, this nice man on a ladder, painting and fixing things, “if you want him. I don’t have room for one more.”

The snowless January bites every exposed part, a bracing, ancient, eternal wind hovering over me, in this waist-coat trying to wipe without hands, my mind split apart by trivial things. (your hands around my throat, the LOL… where kindness should be, simple heartbreaking murder without a blade or a soundtrack)

I am 11 again, sitting very still on the swing, alone in this neighborhood playground beyond Laurel Hill, waiting for this gang of older girls to feed on my every fear. I am afraid of trespassing every day, since they identified me.

A courage I never possessed waved goodbye on the last train. She wore friendship like a battle cry, a badge of honor. God Almighty in her anorexia, a hunchback in a barn.

I cried for her. I fought battles. I bled a little more each day, so I could live with the kind of love I only saw in pictures. For a brief time, three years, I was one of them. I was, I thought, loved.

She made me watch as she bled my precious love dry, then blamed me for watching.

I am that fool standing in the middle of the street, the one who doesn’t know how to check her groceries out of a Trader Joe’s, who begs and begs while paid strangers stare through her, as if she were released from an insane asylum, or just shit her pants.

Give to the published charity that denied me entry, a private club of caregivers for the impoverished of Mukilteo’s finest.

I spent the rest of the dream trying to defend myself. They took a number to debate me over a cracked beam in a new house in a new development. I lost every debate.

Cowards who always ran away found the courage of their convictions to line up and argue every point, point by point, staying until the last word.

Okay… LOL. Three years of friendship, a laff-riot to her.

Okay, you win. You always win.

Kale and Drama for New Year’s

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Happy New Year!

What did you do on New Year’s Eve?

I watched the “Twilight Zone” marathon on TV while the world outside celebrated in the usual way. I also kept to my clean, healthy, low-carb eating.

Roast chicken, au jus, kale, carrots, Caesar salad, coffee… yeah, really the perfect ending to 2017, for me anyway.

For breakfast on New Year’s Day (for once), I didn’t over-indulge. I had eggs over easy over a bed of kale, Portobello mushrooms, onion, and tomatoes, with bacon (two slices) and more delicious coffee, my one major indulgence.

About two days ago, I got into “Anacostia,” an award-winning soap opera, YouTube web series by director and actor Anthony Anderson. My friend and fellow long-time soap fan (“General Hospital,” “One Life To Live,” “All My Children”) Ben Bryant works out of D.C. as a political contractor. He’s also one of the more recent co-executive producers of the series, which features a core group of very talented, charismatic actors, as well as surprising guest stars from daytime.

Martha Byrne (Lily/Rose, ATWT) won a Daytime Emmy in 2015 for her role as Alexis, a complex madam. The series and its creator were nominated as well, and won more than a few Indie Series Awards (formerly Indie Soap Awards), including “Best Ensemble” and “Breakthrough Performance” by one of my favorites, Pasha Diallo, who plays a badass madam (Dominique) with a secret heart of gold. (She also serves as a producer.)

I’m almost done with season four, and totally addicted. The series isn’t slickly made, but is full of heart, humor, soapy fun (nobody dies! oh the drama!), and the kind of character-driven, fast-paced diversity missing in network television.

Ben Bryant asked for my feedback on the fifth and current season. I’m even listed in the credits! When I asked him why, I didn’t do anything, he tweeted back, “You did way, way more than you realized, with feedback, support, and your clear-eyed soap writing and coverage [as a former columnist for SoapZone.com]. Your honesty about the genre helps keep us in it from getting lazy and always pushing for more authenticity. So, a very special thanks, indeed.”

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What a fabulous way to ring in the New Year.

My son said he was hyped for 2018:

“I want to be smarter and stronger than ever, and put everything I’ve done in the past behind me. Nothing that has happened to me matters now. I will just learn from my past mistakes and fix my ideas. I love you and you’re possibly the best mother, and dad is the best father I could ask for. I’m very lucky and sometimes I forget how fortunate I am. I just wanted to say I’m sorry for all the trouble I cause with you and dad. I don’t understand how you deal with me. I just wanted to say thank you to you and dad for everything you’ve done for me. I can’t put in words for how much I love both of you. I’m going to put in the most work ever this year to fix myself.”

Amazing kid. Amazing New Year resolution.

 

Me Quiz

*1. Favorite smell? Theater Popcorn, My Son’s Head, Fresh-Brewed Coffee.

2. Last time you cried? Last night. Happy New Year!

3. Favorite Pizza? New York, cheese.

4. Favorite flower? Peonies

5. Favorite animal? Dog

6. Did you go to college? BA University of Hawaii in Manoa, major in journalism, minors in English and Political Science.

7. Untie your shoes when taking them off? No. But they’re a pain to get back on later.

8. Roller coaster? Vomit? Hell, no.

9. Favorite ice cream? Kona, green tea, coconut.

10. Shorts or jeans? Jeans.

12. What are you listening to? Taron Egerton “I’m Still Standing” from the movie “Sing!”

13. Favorite TV show? Criminal Minds.

14. Tattoos? No.

15. Hair color? Brown and Grey, fake Red highlights.

16. Eye color? Brown.

17. Favorite food to eat? Eggs Benedict. Or English Tea.

18. Favorite holiday? Thanksgiving.

21. Beer or Wine? Neither. Alcohol sucks.

22. Night owl or morning? Night Owl.

23. Favorite day of the week? Friday-Sunday.

24. Do you have a nickname? Coggie.

25. Favorite season? Fall.

26. Favorite place to get away? Cannon Beach, ORE.

27. Missing someone? Yes.

28. Dream vacation? United Kingdom.

30. Regrets? Yes.

31. Middle name? I don’t have a middle name.

33. Go back to secondary school? No fucking way. School=Prison.

34. Ocean or lake? Pacific Ocean.

Questions copied from Beth on Facebook.